Co-op champions jackfruit, seitan, and responsibly-sourced soya in new vegan range

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

©Co-op UK
©Co-op UK

Related tags vegan Co-op group

Co-op UK is launching a range of vegan products under the new GRO label, which the retailer believes marks the largest ever rollout of own-brand vegan products by a supermarket.

British supermarket retailer Co-op UK has announced the launch of a new own-brand range: GRO. The vegan line is comprised of over 35 food products ‘from breakfast to dinner’.

Created with the ‘busy’ and ‘on-the-go’ shopper in mind, the GRO range is designed to meet growing demand for plant-based alternatives.

Co-op’s Ethical Consumerism report revealed that the vegan market has now topped £1bn (€1.174bn), up £452m from 1999. The retailer says that vegetarian product sales are up 12% and non-dairy milk alternatives have risen 14%.

“The latest statistics suggest around 1.6m people are vegetarian or vegan in the UK,”​ a Co-op spokesperson told FoodNavigator.

“Our new plant-based range will meet the needs of the growing number of vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian [Co-operative] members and customers who have asked for more plant-based alternatives to be available in our stores.”

Is the GRO range nutritious?

The GRO range includes plant-based alternatives of a number of British favourites, such as chilli con carne and sticky toffee pudding. The line also features a vegan steak bake, a Kashmiri pizza with cauliflower, and a ‘mozzarella-looking’ vegan cheese.  

When asked whether the new range is healthy, Co-op said the GRO product provide customers with a ‘wide range’ of nutritional values, including the low fat and low calorie GRO Spicy Squash & Mex Bean Salad.

Also many of the GRO products contain a number of vegetables so they can carry the 5-a-day claim,”​ the spokesperson continued.

“In line with all Co-op own-brand products, nutritional information and traffic light labelling appear on pack to make it easy for customers and members to make informed choices.”

Jackfruit, seitan and responsibly-sourced soya are used in a number of SKUs that require a meat substitute, and the retailer said minimal processing is used where possible.

“GRO products aim to use fresh ingredients and minimise the processes foods go through to create great-tasting vegan and vegetarians alternatives that will appeal to a wider audience of shoppers.”

Competitively priced?

The GRO range will be stocked in 2,000 Co-op stores and in up to 4,000 independent retailers. The rollout begins this month (January 2020).

“As a convenience retailer, offering great value prices across all our food and drink ranges is important to us,”​ the spokesperson told this publication.

“The new GRO range has been competitively priced in line with other supermarket ranges and customers will find many of the new lines on promotion at launch as well as an array of vegan options included in Co-op’s lunchtime meal deal.

“Co-op members will also earn 5% on all GRO purchases back onto their membership account, whilst 1% will directly benefit local community causes.”

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